Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dinner on the grill

Last night we enjoyed a fun evening of cooking out and relaxing on the patio to take advantage of our slightly cooler weather.  We grilled three new recipes and all were awesome. 

Marinated grilled shrimp

Bacon wrapped asparagus

BBQ Corn on the Cob

All the food was super easy to make and delicious.  Thanks to a great Publix sale, we'll be enjoying another night of cooking out- this time with T-bone steaks!  Yum!

We also took advantage of the grill to make one of the favorite desserts around our house.

Unfortunately, the coals were mostly ash so Mike resorted to a little unconventional marshmallow roasting.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Making our house a home

We've had some requests to show off some pictures of our rental house now that we're all moved in.  We are loving all of the space and having a place to our selves.  The kittens have completely adjusted to the change and Pouncey thinks our floor vents were made to provide him his own air conditioned bed.  You all should come visit and see everything for yourself!!
first time with a mantle... can't wait till christmas!
starry night- nashville skyline edition
new blue chair!
our room
dining area

Friday, August 27, 2010

Florida Recap

My 12 days in Florida seemed to fly by as did this last week of back-to-school adjustment.  I spent a week down on Manasota Key at the condo.  Mike was there for the first half of the week before he had to go back to Nashville to get some work done and my mom joined me the second half of the week.  The weather was sunny and hot every day and the water was warm.  It was a perfect, and much needed, vacation!  We spent our days and nights relaxing, swimming, sharks tooth hunting, eating and shopping.  I also got to spend a couple days in Gainesville catching up with some Florida friends and eating all my favorite foods from home.
back of the condo- my favorite morning spot
Boys fishing trip.  They caught lots of little sharks.
Sunset cruise on the boat.
Pelican tree!  We counted 23 pelicans in here at one time!!
We saw so many amazing sunsets.

Mike came back to Florida the next weekend for a friends bachelor party and we arrived back home Sunday afternoon in spite of the series of disasters that occurred Saturday.  (think: lost keys in Cedar Key, calling a locksmith and a tow truck, hoping to have time to make it back to get our Uhaul trailer, making it to get the trailer only to find out we don't have towing lights on our car, scrapping the whole plan and shoving everything we could in the back of the jeep!)
I had orientation Monday to meet the new first year students (yikes- I'm a second year!) and get my fall schedule.  Mike and I hosted a back to school get together at our place Tuesday night that was a lot of fun!  We grilled a ton of burgers, dogs, and sausages and fell even more in love with having a deck, patio furniture, and grill to enjoy.  I jumped back into classes on Wednesday and today am heading back to Florida for Erin's bridal shower and bachelorette party weekend!  I can't wait to have a girl filled weekend celebrating the beautiful bride-to-be!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Catchup: Chihuly at Cheekwood

My first exposure to Vegas was walking into the Bellagio lobby to check into our room for my 21st birthday celebration (thanks again R&M!) and being in awe of the blown glass flower display on the ceiling. 

I found out at some point that these works of art were created by Dale Chihuly and the name stuck around in my head.  When reading in the local magazines that Chihuly glass exhibits were coming to three locations in Nashville, I knew we had to see them.  We took advantage of a free day at the cities main downtown art museum, "The Frist," to check out one of the displays with some visitors from Florida.  They had a number of pieces in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  I was obsessed with them all.  Unfortunately, they have a strict no-photography policy, complete with guards at every turn, so we didn't get to capture any of the awesomeness. 

Luckily, I got the chance to go to "Chihuly at Cheekwood."  Cheekwood is a huge botanical gardens in one of my favorite areas of Nashville where this next exhibit is being held.  I have actually been twice now as it's an ideal experience for entertaining out of town guests.  When you arrive, you are given a map of the gardens with a list of all the glass displays locations and descriptions to help you navigate through a self-tour.  We were able to take pictures of the majority of the exhibits with the exception of a few housed inside a museum on the property (one of them being my favorite, go figure). 

Some of the other neat features of the botanical gardens included floating picture frames and, of course, flowers. 

There's also an event at Cheekwood where you can go at night to see all of the pieces lit up.  I can only imagine how neat that would be!

Big decisions today

I'm spending today doing laundry (sans dryer so we have clothes hanging everywhere), packing and getting things ready for our trip!  We are heading to Florida tomorrow where I will be vacationing/visiting family for the next 12 days.  I'm sooo ready for this trip.  I just might have done a little dance today when I got out my box of swim suits to decide which ones to bring along.  How can I possibly choose between all these pretties? 

I'm off to shove them all in a bag since we're driving anyway choose a reasonable number and force cuddles on my kitties... I'm going to have serious withdrawals from their little fuzz faces while I'm gone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Something happy for the final few hours of the weekend.

How cute are my kitties when they aren't chasing each other around the house at 100 miles an hour, knocking over furniture and breaking vases?

I'm pretty sure they pull out all the stops to be cute sometimes just to make sure we don't get rid of them.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Busy Saturday

Today has been a productive day around our house.  Hubs promised me a trip to Pancake Pantry if I got above a 95 on my final exam (he forgot who he was dealing with apparently ;) ) so we woke up early to beat the crowds.  However, once we stepped outside I was so excited about the slightly chilly, humidity-free weather that we came back in, laced up our new shoes and went for a run instead.  I was excited to get in 6 miles fairly easily as I'm debating whether I have time to train for the Nashville Women's half marathon that's happening at the end of September.  The heat and my lack of ambition have resulted in me being really far behind in my training plan so we'll see how the next couple weeks go.

After our run, we headed to Panera for our favorite bagels and then made a stop at Lowe's to pick up supplies for a project to get ready for football season (28 days if you're keeping track!!).  I'd made a list of what we needed and we loaded up our cart with pvc pieces and orange and blue spray paint.  As usual, Jaz was intrigued and Pouncey chose his usual route of laying on whatever we do.

We painted the pieces orange and blue and assembled them to create a new ladder golf!  Our other one has seen it's share of injuries and tape so it was time for a new one.  In case you're wanting to make one of your own... the pieces necessary (I made it up- nothing official) are:
12 "elbow joints"
12 "T-joints"
12 12-inch pieces PVC (3/4 inch diameter, the thicker one)
10 26-inch pieces PVC
8 16-inch pieces PVC
We bought the 3/4 inch diameter PVC.  They had two so we opted for the sturdier choice.

After that project, I decided to make some of my Grandma's famous homemade bread to go with our leftover Maggiano's lasagna for dinner.  (If you like this place as much as I do, you have to take advantage of their new deal on their menu... you order any classic pasta dish for 12.95 to eat and then you get an entire order of any other one to take home!  Because their portions are so disgustingly huge to begin with, we brought home enough food for a few days.  Yum!)  This particular bread recipe is awesome because you make the dough, throw it in the refrigerator and bake whatever you want from it each night.  The result: amazing homemade bread every night of the week from one easy recipe.
You need this huge of a Tupperware because it will rise to fill the whole thing in the fridge!  Ours normally bursts the lid right off!
Loaf of french bread!
1 pkg yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
3/8 cup oil
3/8 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp salt
4-4.5 cup flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar.  Sit till foamy.  Add in remaining ingredients.  Form dough.  Store in tupperware in refrigerator.  (It recommends refrigerating overnight before first use but I sometimes forget and only do this for a few hours and it's still great!)
About an hour before baking, take out needed dough and form loaves, cinnamon buns, or rolls.  Let rise 30min-1hr.  Bake 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees. Keeps 1 week in fridge. 

After dinner we drove to a nearby lake to checkout the trails we are thinking of bike riding on tomorrow (after pancakes of course).  It was a little too dark by the time we got there but I was very excited to see a deer like 10 yards from our car!

I was pretty excited that he had antlers!

Now I'm off to eat ice cream and watch Edge of Darkness with the mister.  Crossing my fingers it's better than the last 12 movies we've rented!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

New kicks!

There's not much better than a new pair of running shoes!  M and I finally went and got our feet and stride analyzed and fitted for new shoes.  I can't wait to run in them and am crossing my fingers they keep me injury free!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Being out of school allows me the time to make meals that require some extra effort.  Last night we made a BBQ chicken pizza that was absolutely awesome.  If you ever order this at CPK or Wolfgang Puck Express then you have to make this!  I started by making a whole wheat crust and some homemade BBQ sauce.  The sauce is ridiculously good and I plan on making it again at some point for grilling.  The dough makes a dense, sorta crispy crust.  If that's not your thing you could substitute one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of all-purpose flour. 

Mix 1 packet yeast, 3/4 cup warm water, and a pinch of sugar.  Stir till dissolved and let sit until a little bit foamy.  Add 2 TBS honey and 2 TBS olive oil.  Mix in 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Throw it all into your amazing Kitchenaid mixer and let it do it's magic or knead it by hand until it forms a nice dough.  Coat it with a little oil, cover the bowl with saran wrap and let it sit about 2 hours. 

BBQ SAUCE: (Cutting this in half allowed for enough for one pizza)
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and let come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The mixture will thicken and reduce a bit.

Next, I cut up 3/4 of a red onion and caramelized it.

The chicken should be cooked ahead of time and shredded.  (I hope you don't hate shredding chicken as much as I do!)

To assemble the pizza:
Spread the dough onto a greased baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil (about 3 TBS) and a little minced garlic (about 1 tsp).  Spread on about 2 ounces of tomato sauce. 

Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Next, put on the chicken and onions- as much as you like.  Spread the top with the BBQ sauce. 

Cover the whole thing with 1-1.5 cup grated colby jack cheese.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.  Hope you love it as much as we did!

sideways pizza
Credit once again to  I apparently need to make everything she has made!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I've been up to...

People always ask me how school is going and what all I do everyday.  Mike gets frustrated with me for not explaining it well so I figured I'd give ya the run down on what my life as a medical physics grad student entails in case you're interested.

My first year consisted of all classes to get down the basics of radiation, dosimetry, physics, anatomy/physiology, and medical imaging.  One highlight was the cadaver lab where I got to hold a human brain, look at tumors, and explore the awesomeness that is the human body (really cool if you're not the queasy type- Mike didn't really like for me to tell him about it!).  I worked part-time in the clinic doing the quality control on the digital x-ray units around the Vanderbilt hospital and children's hospital.  I also worked on a research project that looked at breast dose from CT exams.

This summer we started our first practical coursework taking a class in Brachytherapy (which is a type of radiotherapy that uses permanent or temporary implants of radioactive seeds into the tumor or tumor margins to treat cancers).  We have the class three days a week where we learn all about the cancers, procedures, treatment prescriptions, etc.  We also have two days of practicum each week where we spend our time in the radiation oncology (what we call "the clinic") learning, hands-on, how to plan each type of treatment.  Our goal is to plan a few treatments of each of the therapies we learn about.  This includes cancers of the cervix, eye, prostate, breast, lung and sarcomas (skin/surface).  Basically, we use previous, real-patient images (CT, x-ray, ultrasound, etc.) and prescriptions and plan the entire treatment on our own using the clinics treatment planning software.  Each treatment then has to be approved by a physicist and double checked using hand calculations or spreadsheets to make sure the radiation dose is what intended.  It's the best learning tool as we are forced to figure out a lot of the details on our own.  We usually bring what we think to be a completed plan to be checked only to be told (multiple times) that we can make it better.  One of the biggest challenges we face is making sure to get the necessary dose to the entire tumor volume while minimizing the dose to healthy tissues.

Being in the clinic with the physicists provides us endless opportunities to learn through observation.  The physicists, radiation oncologists, and older grad students are all beyond helpful and always offering to show us what they are working on and invite us to observe their patient treatments.  My first day of summer semester, I was able to go with our director to an ocular melanoma (tumor on the back of the eye) implant surgery and witness the procedure standing right next to the surgeons in the OR.  It was an awesome experience to see how all our planning comes together in "real-life."  Plus, I'm the one at the gym with my treadmill TV tuned to the surgery channel so this was especially exciting for me.

Every Friday, all of the students meet up for our graduate seminar.  This is a time for "professional development" where we sometimes learn different perspectives on medical physics that we don't get in the classroom.  Mostly it's where, one at a time, we are called to the board, given dry erase markers and asked to answer questions on any random topic we've learned about.  The goal is to prepare us for our oral exam at the end of our second year.  It started out as the most terrifying experience I could imagine but, over time, it's gotten much more comfortable.  I guess that's the point!

Overall, grad school is an awesome experience so far.  Unlike the majority of undergrad, I love learning about things that I'm actually going to be doing throughout my career.  I'm excited to start the fall semester and get more time in the clinic learning new treatments. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


After three long hours of working problems, I finished my final exam for my summer class today! (Wish I had known it would be all calculations and not the endless procedures and protocols I memorized!) Oh well, I'm done.  Yay!  I have three weeks off till starting back up again... let's hope I don't go too stir crazy. 

When I finally got home after sitting forever on an "all lanes blocked" interstate, we enjoyed an evening of really yummy food.  I was inspired by an appetizer I read on an online menu for provolone stuffed fried zucchini.  I had no clue what I was doing but I quickly decided it was one of the greatest foods ever.  We started by slicing the zucchini lengthwise as skinny as we could.  I then took provolone cheese (sliced sandwich style because that's all I had- I think you should use little cubes) and tore it up to line the zucchini.  I rolled them up and stuck a little stick through them to hold it all together.

Then I dipped each one into a mixture of beer and Bisquick and tossed them in a pan of hot oil.  I turned them frequently and eventually took the sticks out as they were staying together alright and it was hard to get to all the sides with the sticks in.  I'd never fried anything before like this so it was quite the challenging/interesting task.

When they were done, I drained off some of the grease, sprinkled them with Parmesan cheese and served them with marinara sauce.  YUM!  They were sooo tasty.  I only wish I'd made more.
Why does blogger randomly turn some of my pictures sideways?
Mike took advantage of our new grilling capabilities and grilled up some barbeque pork chops and the rest of the zucchini.  We also baked a sweet potato that we had leftover.  It was all so delicious and the perfect kickoff to my second mini summer break!
sideways dinner.  grrr.